Is that a mobile game? Is that a messenger? No, it’s a Super App!
China has been known to do things out of the box. People in China have always gone out of their ways to innovate something that the whole world marvel about. So how it would have been possible that the concept of a mobile application remained subtle?
The Idea of a “Super app” is that one single mobile application is loaded with amazing features that no other application is required for daily use. Or in other words, it is an application that puts a bunch of diverse services together into it.
This kind of applications is rare. Generally, apps are designed in a closed loop system, i.e., they exclusively perform their designated functions which are centric to a particular industry or service. But Super apps are complicated apps, which cater to multiple unrelated services.
Some examples of Super Apps are – WeChat, Alipay and Go-Jek
Let us elaborate on each of these to see where and how the trend of Super Apps is growing.
A revolution started with WeChat in China that got The Economist to call it, “One App to rule them all”. WeChat is the go-to app for every user in China before they navigate to any other mobile app. Still many people outside China have either not heard of it or they’re under the impression that WeChat is China’s equivalent of WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. This is far from the truth, though.
WeChat, today is an indispensable part of the lives of people in China.
Let us have a look at the numbers that WeChat has to offer:
There are a number of services included in WeChat that makes it as important to the people in China as it has become. Some of the features are as following:
- Messaging – Basic one on one and group chats.
- Different account types – On WeChat, you can register your account in three ways – Official, Subscription or Service account. An official account enables you to push feed to users and subscribers, A Subscription account is the basic account type which allows push notifications and these accounts do not support the payment model and the Service account is for Businesses and organizations which can be used to access more advanced features on WeChat.
- Moments – Moments is WeChat’s social media feed and updates from friends. It allows the users to share Photos, Videos, Music and it even links with Facebook and Twitter. Users can also ‘Like” or comment on each other’s posts.
- WeChat Pay – The users who have provided bank account information may use the app to pay bills, order goods and services, transfer money to other users, and pay in stores if the stores have WeChat payment option. So WeChat Pay is a kind of mobile wallet which facilitates many payment services.
- City Services – It allows you to have the ease of On-demand services like Booking a doctor’s appointment, Paying for electricity, Booking cabs, etc.
- WeChat Mini Programs – One of the most interesting features of WeChat is that allows businesses and enterprises to create mini-apps within WeChat to facilitate their daily works. There are currently over 280,000 mini apps available for installation in WeChat.
Apart from these few functions, WeChat also provides users with experiences of Friend Seek, WeChat Index, WeChat out, etc. Each of these features, as you can notice, is a separate mobile application in itself and does not relate with basic messaging service at all.
Alipay is another big example of what a super app looks like. It is a third-party mobile and online payment platform, established in Hangzhou, China in 2004.
Above is the screenshot of Alipay’s first look. As you can see, there are a lot many diverse, unrelated applications stacked for the user and Alipay is said to be a third party payment mobile application. With certain sections that allow users the facility of third-party payments and fund transfers, there are many options such as, Transportation booking, Airbnb, Healthcare, sports services, movie tickets booking and so on, all in a single application.
With over 520 M total registered users and 150 M monthly active users, Alipay is one of the leading names when it comes to SUper apps of China.
GO-JEK is a technology startup based in Jakarta, Indonesia that specializes in ride-hailing, logistics and digital payments. It is also Indonesia’s first unicorn company. GO – JEK app offers a one-stop shop for all the modern day users needs from transportation and logistics to food delivery and payments.
Go-Jek’s app-based on-demand services include the following services
- Transportation (GO-RIDE, GO-CAR, GO-BLUEBIRD)
- Logistics (GO-SEND and GO-BOX)
- Food delivery service (GO-FOOD)
- Grocery delivery service (GO-MART)
- Shopping delivery service (GO-SHOP)
- Entertainment ticket selling service (GO-TIX)
- Medicine delivery service (GO-MED)
- Massage service (GO-MASSAGE)
- Beauty service (GO-GLAM)
- Professional cleaning service (GO-CLEAN)
- Automotive solutions (GO-AUTO)
- Digital payment and e-Wallet (GO-PAY)
- Bill payment (GO-BILLS)
- Phone credits top-up (GO-PULSA)
- Loyalty points (GO-POINTS).
It is rapidly growing with people loving the “all-in-one” concept of the application. Currently, the start-up is valued at $3 Billion and is currently operating in over 50 cities.
What is driving the demand for Super-Apps?
The powerhouse app trend is catching on to the other major applications as well. For instance, there is Facebook which has turned the advertising industry upside down when it was only meant to be a social networking and messaging site. It has games and mini-applications of its own as well. Push notifications and targeted marketing are a part of almost every application of the western and eastern world alike. All these features are a part of moving towards the Super Apps trends.
The core market demand for Super Apps is based on the fact that an average person has about 30 applications installed on their smartphones and it is a hassle to toggle between all of these for different requirements. This is the reason why the above-stated apps like WeChat, Go-Jek, and Alipay are the biggest success stories of the east. The emergence of these amazing all-encompassing capabilities and incredible pervasiveness of apps are shifting eyes towards China as the central attraction.
Super-Apps outside China
Many of the experts are now starting to talk in favor of All-in-one super Apps. In the past, there has been a trend where western technology giants like Amazon and Uber have failed to gain a foothold in China and likewise, the Chinese technologies like WeChat have failed to make a mark in the west. But if not directly the concept of each technology has made a mark alike in the entire world.
To give an instance, there are On-demand taxis and food available in the entire world alike, though, through different channels but the technology is the same.
The next big thing which experts are the point at is the need of Super apps in healthcare industry
On a regular day in a doctor’s clinic, there are various parallel but unrelated activities involved haphazardly, to get a simple check, like taking an appointment, filling the form, Processing that information in the doctor’s system, insurance claim, getting prescriptions and refills, etc.
All of these activities take an arduous amount of time and effort for the clinic attendants and the patient alike. And all this is for a simple case of flu, maybe.
What the Mobile app experts and mobile app development companies are seeing here is an opportunity where a Super App can be developed and the patient has to enter all of his personal and medical insurance information once and there will be direct flow brought into all of these separate activities. The need of a form will cease. And this can prove to be a real boon in case of emergencies with facilities of ambulances and doctors on call who will already have all your data with them.
This was just one example. Knowingly or unknowingly, many application giants have already moved to a phase where they can be considered as a Super app. Amazon, for one, started as an online book retail store and today it has become the “everything store”. So much so that 44% of e-commerce sales in the United States is produced by Amazon in 2017.
Moreover, it provides cloud computing (AWS), Prime Video, and its own hardware like Kindle devices and intelligent personal assistant (Amazon Alexa). In 2017 it even started taking on the grocery industry by acquiring high-end grocery chain Whole Foods.
Although it’s not that Amazon has one Giant Application that provides multiple services but seeing the tremendous growth and the way it’s digging hands into everything that is compulsorily unrelated and still provides a more than decent service, Amazon is no less than WeChat.
Even Flipkart in India is talking about the incorporation of Super app features to its business model. Flipkart has already set a huge consumer base in India and its next step is to become a “one stop for all needs”.
The next stops in its business model are to create mini-apps like weChat that’ll help the users to book a vacation, tickets, pay bills, order food and everything else on the line.
Super App For your business
If you’re looking for a similar venture, to begin with, it will take that many times of effort as the number of services you’re planning to incorporate. This thought may make you ask for direction first, and trust us, it’s a smart move – asking for direction.
Some of the questions that you should be planning around as follows:
- Who are your customers and what media and apps are they using?
- Should you own the data gathered from the user journey?
- Is there a core feature that you could integrate with Facebook Messenger?
- Would it create value for the user and your business to collect more apps or functions into one super app? A one-stop shop.
- Are there existing rules and regulations that would be relevant for your business in relation to super apps?
This will give a headstart to your business idea. And if it doesn’t and you need someone to talk through whether a super app is the right solution for you, let us have a chat about your next step.